Some of you will recall that the Scottish Grocers Federation (SGF) organised a Study Day this year to Musselburgh, with the aim of looking at what the discounters have to offer and the competition that they “provide” to local convenience stores. I wrote about this a few weeks ago.
In that report on the day I mentioned that in due course the material collected and the discussions of that day would be the subject of a short presentation at the annual Conference of the SGF. That duly occurred on the 29th October – in the rather palatial sort-of publicly owned surrounds of RBS Gogarburn – when I presented a part of an operationally focused afternoon.
My 10 minute presentation – a cruel and unusual punishment restricting any academic to 10 minutes – was built around a short report we (myself and Carol MacKenzie) had pulled together after the event. We had asked all the delegates on the Study Day to score all the stores on various characteristics and also to write down their good, bad and surprising impressions of each store.
A few things need to be borne in mind in looking at these documents. This is a small sample of respondents who were providing their immediate impressions. They scored all the stores on a range of attributes, but not all stores had all the attributes. As such the overall scores and the spider diagrams need to be taken with some caution. But the scores do provide some food for thought about the ways in which the stores were considered – most notably the tables in the presentation summarise some of the points.
The words the respondents used to describe each store have been developed into word clouds, and again these provide a basis for discussion. It has to be recognized that this is based on a single store of each chain on one day and is not representative. Nonetheless the words do paint a picture of the stores and what respondents found good, bad and surprising.
Aldi and especially Lidl come out of the exercise as strong businesses and, as we noted before, they surprised some of the respondents with their overt localness. The non-food discounters were “led” by Poundland but the overlap amongst them was quite clear.
The Association of Convenience Stores and the SGF have just produced a report which allows this small scale work to be placed in a wider context. ACS has over the last few years produced a Local Shop Report which presents the state of the convenience sector. As I reported last year, some Scottish figures were available in the 2014 report.
This year they have gone one better by collaborating with the SGF to produce The Scottish Local Shop Report 2015, which sets out to – for the first time – focus on specific information about convenience stores operating throughout Scotland. As they note in the introduction, this is the “richest ever picture of the economic and social value of local shops” in Scotland. A quick comparison between the figures in 2014 and 2015 (and there is so much more in the 2015 report) shows continued growth and development of the sector in Scotland. The Scottish Local Shop Report 2015 is available from the SGF.